Eye on Microsoft

About this Blog: This is Shane O'Neill's blog about Microsoft's corporate strategy and its various software and services — the good, the bad and the ugly.

Eye on Microsoft

Windows Phone 7 Ad: Don't Save the World Microsoft, Save Yourself

The Windows Phone 7 TV ad is funny, but its ambitious message of saving people from their phones sets Microsoft up for failure.

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What to make of the Windows Phone 7 commercial. If you're judging by production value, humor and having a clever visual idea, then it's a big winner. If you're looking for a coherent message from Microsoft, you will be disappointed.

Well, Microsoft does make a statement here, but it's as thin as an iPad. Here it is: Windows Phones are going to save us all from smartphone distraction. The WP7 phone isn't like those bloated iPhones, they are saying. It's faster, with a UI that is simpler to use by bringing everything out to the home screen. One click and you can check that e-mail and go back to kissing your girlfriend or observing nature.


C'mon Microsoft. Really?

Do they really believe another smartphone, no matter how fast or easy to navigate, will change human behavior. It's an ambitious statement by Microsoft, but it's delusional. We're walking into walls and tripping on sidewalk curbs because smartphone advances made us this way. They give us too much to be distracted by: e-mail, IMs, text messages, photos, video, music, weather updates, sports scores, Twitter tweets, all on our phones. It's a nice idea, but a faster phone from Microsoft will not change our annoying phone habits.

That said, the commercial is really funny. If anything, it serves as a commentary on how our damn phones have hypnotized us. We're a pratfall waiting to happen, and we all do it.

Set to the emotionally charged classical piece, "In the Hall of the Mountain King" by Edvard Grieg (you'll recognize it), the spot shows a series of distracted smartphone users out in the world. The phone brand names are concealed, but we all know who the competition is.

There is a jogger staring at her phone as she runs, a scuba diver gazing at his phone as a shark approaches, a surgeon looking at his phone during surgery, a bride walking down the aisle with eyes focused on her smartphone. The music occasionally stops and a phoneless observer shakes his or head and asks: "Really?"

As the music builds to a crescendo, the distracted masses start to crash into each other and those on the receiving end of the distraction get angry (my personal favorite: a kid throws a baseball at his father's head to get his attention).

Slideshow: Windows Phone 7: Images, Tech Specs on 10 Upcoming WP7 Smartphones
Slideshow: Seven New Windows 7 Tablets: In Pictures
Slideshow: Windows 7 Hardware in Pictures: The Latest and Greatest Laptops

Despite the ad's hilarious sight gags, I'm not buying Microsoft's new role as smartphone savior and its overreaching motto: "It's time for a phone to save us from our phones."

What Microsoft fails to see — or just ignores — is that people don't want to be saved. We are glued to our iPhones, Androids and BlackBerrys not because they are slow or faulty, but because we really, really like using them. People do not walk into trees because they are staring at their screens waiting for apps to load; they are in the apps devouring content. Yes, we are all a bit obsessive about it. But is that the phone's fault?

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